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Violence Against Women: Synthesis of Research for Prosecutors

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2000
34 pages
Publication Series
This federally funded report reviews empirical research on prosecution policies and practices in the protection of women from violence through an examination of three categories of violence against women: domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and violations of protection orders and stalking.
Prosecuting violence against women poses unique challenges for an adversarial system that is geared to winning, thereby being less attuned to protecting victims. Because of this the questions remain does the prosecution actually prevent violence against women and can the prosecution assist a man’s disposition so that he will not abuse women. This report funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, attempts to answer these questions by conducting a synthesis of the literature most relevant to formulating protective policies for responding to violence against women. The report begins with a detail of research findings on preventive effects of prosecution policies. Prosecution policies need to be evaluated carefully to determine whether they help prevent violence and ensure they do not result in greater harm. The report continues with a discussion on issues of policy and practice in the prosecution of rape and sexual assault victims. Unlike policies for the prosecution of domestic violence, questions about the effects of the prosecution rape center more on how to make reforms than on what reforms are best for victims. The report concludes with a review of literature on protection orders and stalking. Anti-stalking and protection orders are intended to protect specific victims from specific predators. Prosecuting violation of orders of protection has the potential for preventing serious violence. Additional research is necessary on whether prosecution can protect victims from further violence, on whether prosecution prevents violence by men in the general population, and on whether prosecution policies can help victims recover from the harm inflicted by their attackers.

Date Published: December 1, 2000